|4209km from Hong Kong.
The staff at the hotel in Xi'an laughed when I said I was coming to Beijing and said "it's even colder there", they were right.
The train journey wasn't one of my better ones, the little (in height not width) old lady sharing my compartment looked innocuous but was hiding a wealth of talents. I have to assume that she has titles for her snoring, belching and noodle slurping but she must be famous all over China for her farting, they could have put her on the front of the train and used her for the horn. The train was two hours late but I was quite pleased as I was managing to get some sleep by the time we should have arrived.
I'm sure that in the time before I leave Beijing I will get some nice photographs of places like the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Great Wall to put on here but essentially Beijing is a very ugly city with a decrepit underground system. Understandably they are frantically building and repairing things all over the city turning the place into a building site, only 973 days to go according to the countdown in Tiananmen Square.
I'll say one thing for cold weather (and this is the advantage I was hoping for), it certainly gives nice blue-sky backgrounds on my photographs. I haven't given the individual names for all of the courts and gates in the Forbidden city as they all look very similar and have long names like the "Gates of Inner Harmony" or "Imperial Wisdom". The forbidden City is very impressive and really beautiful but it does get repetitive and the whole thing is enormous, sometimes I wasn't sure if I was back in the same place again or somewhere completely different.
Bei Hai Park is just behind the Forbidden City and was a summer retreat for Emperors and Empresses, with a biting wind blowing across it I can see why they didn't go there often in the winter.